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How Fitness is Changing For Military Personnel and First Responders

How Fitness is Changing For Military Personnel and First Responders

New fitness programs are providing military personnel and first responders with the best physical edge to succeed in their dangerous and physically-demanding jobs.

For military personnel, police officers and firefighters, physical fitness can mean the difference between life and death but the lessons being fit teaches first responders also applies to civilians. Whether you work in an office or in a firehouse, fitness should be a part of your daily routine in order to give you the best chance at a living a long, happy and healthy life. 

A New Emphasis on Functional Fitness

Crossfit emerged in the late 2000s and marked a change in the fitness world. The focus began to shift from just looking good to actual performance. Functional fitness has radically changed the way many of us workout. This change has been felt most strongly in the military and in police and fire departments around the country. There is no job that relies more on functional fitness and elite athletic performance than that of a police officer, firefighter, solider, sailor, airman or marine. The fact that Crossfit was adopted early on by the special operations community only further enhanced the emergence of many new fitness programs started specifically to deliver this type of fitness to military personnel and first responders.

As a scout serving in the 1st Cavalry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was in a platoon that already took physical fitness (PT) very seriously. When we returned from Iraq in 2009, we adopted Crossfit as our new program for PT every morning. My life was changed. I had worked out with weights before, trying to get as big as I could. I ran during PT before our deployment because I had to. I had never seen a fitness program combine the different aspects of strength and conditioning the way Crossfit did. I was exposed to high intensity, circuit-style workouts with large numbers of repetitions of bodyweight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats. I did burpees for the first time and began a love-hate relationship with them that continues to this day. I finally got really good at pull-ups. Perhaps the best thing was that my PT scores began to skyrocket. In fact, PT scores went up for almost everyone in my platoon, despite the fact that we had just spent almost fifteen months in Iraq.

3 Things I Learned About Fitness While Serving in Iraq

The relationship between Crossfit and the military goes back to the 2000s, when Crossfit was adopted by many Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Pararescuemen and others serving in the special operations community. Since then, hundreds of hero workouts named after fallen military personnel, police officers and firefighters have been posted on Crossfit’s website. Now, new fitness programs with a similar emphasis have begun to emerge and their focus is on providing servicemembers and first responders with the best physical edge to succeed in their dangerous and physically-demanding careers.

Fitness Programs

Soflete was started by current and former special operations forces personnel who are accomplished fitness experts. They provide military personnel, special operations candidates and anyone else interested with workout programs that have been developed to build athletic capacity conducive to operating in harsh and punishing conditions, such as combat. Workouts focus on a combination of strength and stamina and anyone familiar with Crossfit would recognize many of the exercises.


5-5-5 Fitness focuses on providing similar fitness programs to firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Firefighting is an arduous and physically-demanding job that typically requires high fitness standards to get hired. Unfortunately, as many progress through their careers, fitness performance drops as the same standards are often not required to be met beyond the initial training in the academy. 5-5-5 Fitness aims to change this by encouraging healthy lifestyles for fire personnel and by providing workouts and fitness programs that focus on strength, conditioning and functional fitness.

Bottom Line

As obesity levels continue to climb and fitness receives more attention from decision makers, perhaps the military branches and police and fire departments will begin to embrace this new style of functional fitness. There is no shortage of qualified trainers, coaches, entrepreneurs and active and former military, police and fire personnel willing and able to lead the change towards making healthier and fitter servicemembers and first responders.

The benefits of these great fitness programs can go far beyond the military and emergency services. They are available to civilians looking to get in shape and the results are nearly guaranteed due to the elite level these programs force one to perform at.

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